Top 3 tips for teaching yin yoga – is teaching yin yoga easy?

Me teaching yin yoga online!

On the surface I want to say hell yes, of course yin yoga is easy to teach!  Let’s take an average hour class, and assume our yin holds are some where between 3 to 5 minutes, leaving a bit of space for start and end of class, you’ll need around 8 to 10 yin asanas, I prefer to call them shapes.

Compare this to a typical vinyasa class, where we may indulge in a good many sun-salutations to simply warm up, let alone all the shapes we’ll make from there, I can’t even bring myself to count them all!  

One could also assume the slower pace of yin affords us the luxury of time, time to offer more modifications, time to give our students the opportunity to really explore the shape and find their own version of it, along with yin’s focus on sensation over form, the focus on alignment is substantially less.  

So less poses, less focus on alignment and more time, sounds easy right, why would find teaching yin yoga hard?

The truth is yoga is yoga, movement is movement and teaching is teaching, the skill of a yoga teacher is to craft a class that seamlessly moves through the whole body, and this for me where teaching yin gets tough.     With less poses and more time the challenge comes from simply not moving from one yin pose to another without thought as to where you have been and where you are going.   There’s no real traditional ‘peak’ posture in yin yoga (and I know moving to a definitive peak is not the only way to craft a class, but it’s often the way we start out), so it can be easy to fall into a habit when teaching yin yoga of meandering from one yin shape to another.

And then there is the question – what do you do in the space of the hold, how do you fill the silence?  Many turn to playing music, which I know a beautifully crafted play list can enhance the experience of the practise, but as a yoga teacher have you got the time to craft this play list and music is so subjective, it is very hard to find music that is to everyone’s taste.   I may be a little old school here, but I often suspect teachers choose to play music because they feel the yoga they are teaching is not enough or feel uncomfortable in the silence (I very much get this).  If that’s why you play music, my friend be brave and leave the music at home!

And as much as I dislike the terms ‘correct alignment’ or ‘good posture’, both of which can potentially feed into our stories of not being good enough, alignment can often act as a guide when we are unsure, it can be a big ask at first to encourage your students to guide themselves, to take autonomy in the shape, all though I feel like this is where we all should end up!

Here are my 3 top tips to make your yin classes flow with more ease:

  1. Have a theme or a focus; it could be as simple as a focus area of the body, link all that you do to this theme.  You could think of you theme as the title of you book, and your yin shapes your chapters where you tell this story.  This will help with your planning and guiding students verbally in the hold (so maybe you don’t need the music!)
  2. Allow there to be silence, guide your students into this, literally tell them you are not going to speak for specific length of time, and guide them out with the breath, I often go for “3 more breaths”.
  3. Use the word “maybe” a lot!  Maybe becomes a constant invitation to try something one way or another, the autonomy is still with our students, but the maybes give them suggested paths to take.

More yin yoga with me?

If you would like to come practise yin yoga with me regularly you can join my Yin-Club membership, for a weekly live class and a huge library of recorded classes.  Visit – https://www.amy-yogaonline.com/p/yin-club

You can train can also train to teach yin yoga with me online, and share the gift of yin yoga with your students.  Start today here – https://www.amy-yogaonline.com/p/yin-yoga-teacher-training

I have a fab free 2 hour yin training workshop and class which is a great place to start – https://www.amy-yogaonline.com/p/the-art-of-teaching-yin-yoga

Or simply hop over to www.amy-yoga.com and check out all my training courses and classes

And of course you can check out my free yin classes on my small (but mighty!) you-tube channel!

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